I came across Oliver Oettli’s fantastic work when I noticed these wonderful photos of models appearing from clouds of coloured powder. I thought the images were wonderful but what is really interesting is Oliver doesn’t usually shoot conceptual fashion. He actually describes himself as a ‘People and Corporate’ photographer.
I wanted to find out how a Corporate photographer came to shoot these electrifying fashion shots, amazingly it was all done for his Christmas Card send out. How wonderful. Here is what Oliver had to say.
I wanted to make an exciting Christmas Card to send to my clients and therefore we thought about an uncommon project. Many years ago I saw a photographer working with flour. It always stayed at the back of my mind and one day I wanted to create a photographic dreamworld for my own project. I looked up how to color flour – we wanted to work with natural materials because we will all ‘eat’ a lot of it during the shooting, mainly the model. In fact I am a perfectionist when it comes to my own projects so we practiced one whole day in order to find out how we need to throw the flour, what angle, how much we need etc. We used flour and artificial pigments and the clothes were made by ourselves, so no brands to mention. Some parts were self made, others were no-name clothes from china that we combined the way we wanted them to be.
The Flour was thrown by my assistant. Actually we tried many different angles, directions, many different techniques of throwing. And until now only my assistant from back then managed to make it exactly the way I wanted. It took 1.5 days of trying, luck and one special shovel (we tried three). I like simple set ups, actually. But this setup turned out to be very complicated. The light needs to be positioned right to get this special effect of the flour. Like this we got a high contrast that gives more depth and a nicer picture. The light also needs to be hard, soft-boxes didn’t work. The model was in motion, actually she is jumping. Now try to have the right timing of the flour, the jump and the flash. 95% of all pictures we couldn’t use because of the flour, even if the moment and the model were perfect. We needed a huge place, because after 5 tries the whole hall was covered in fog. Clean up took 3 days (never use any water. Else you have wet, colored flour in your camera, clothes etc…)
With this project, it is like with most of my projects – if I knew in advance how much work it will be, I wouldn’t even start. But same goes for my career as a whole. And in the end you’re so happy you went for it!
Q. Who you are and how and did get into photography:
A. I’m Oliver Oettli – a people and corporate photographer.
I’m self taught and became a photographer because I had no job and no education and had to earn a living.
Q. Where are you Based?
A. in Switzerland
Q. How would you describe your photography?
A. Clean, simple, pure. Well, mostly. Sometimes its damn complicated.
Q. How are your photos used (Published / Gallery / personal website etc)
A. Since I shoot mostly for companies, I work on commission. The pictures are published by the companies. Sometimes in magazines (editorials) and sometimes I also make exhibitions.
Q. The process for creating your work (Studio / location / post production:
A. This depends on the project.
Q. Your top tip for taking your style of photos
A. Get it right IN camera, not in photoshop.
Q. The equipment you use:
A. Nikon, Broncolor, Elinchrome, the sun.
Dogs or cats? Cats
Sunrise or Sunset? Sunset
Coffee or Water? Both
Men or Women? Women
Night in or Night out? Used to be out, now its in (I’m a married father ;))
Fruit or Chocolate? Yes
Favourite band/musician right now? Seed
Favourite Food? Thai
Most exciting city you have visited (this ones hard)? Hongkong and Ulan Bataar
One thing you never leave out of your camera bag (not camera hahaha): Gaffer Tape! It’s the ONLY thing a photographer needs at all time, no matter what. Probably even more crucial for success then your camera.
Photography, Concept & Production – Oliver Oettli – www.oliveroettli.com
Lightassistant – Cyrill Kammermann & Ogi Oettli
Model – Johanna Kohlmünzer @ Scout
Styling – Christelle Egger
Make Up – Selina Beutler
Hair – Carlo Zwalen @ Millennium Hair
Retouching – Ana-Maria Nedelea
Thanks for reading and remember,
All photos and story used with permission of Oliver Oettli.
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